3 reasons why telco giant Viettel's global expansion is booming

By Huong Le   July 26, 2017 | 10:00 am GMT+7

Strong international markets, favorable exchange rates and new services have led to record revenues.

Vietnam's military-run telecoms group Viettel said its pre-tax profit from the nine overseas market it currently has a foothold in rose 156 percent on-year to $41 million in the first half of 2017.

The huge jump is due to encouraging business climates, new services and strategic projects and favorable exchange rates, according to Viettel Global.

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Overseas performances

Other than established overseas markets such as Laos, Cambodia and East Timor, which all turned a healthy profit, new markets in Peru, Burundi and Haiti were the top contributors to the company's success.

During the first six months, total sales in Peru and Burundi increased by 82 percent and 38 percent respectively, exceeding the 29 percent on-year growth recorded in East Timor. Viettel Haiti also bounced back from the strong typhoon in 2016 with 15 percent sales growth in H1.

Peru and East Timor were the two most promising markets for Viettel during H1. Pre-tax profit in Peru reached VND405 billion ($18 million), up 132 percent on-year.

Meanwhile, the number of subscribers to Telemor, Viettel's carrier in East Timor, jumped 42 percent more than targeted with total sales reached $15 million.

Favorable exchange rates

Unlike 2016, favorable exchange rates have contributed to a good start to this year.

Stronger currencies in Mozambique and Cameroon, together with strict financial controls imposed by their governments, have helped Viettel bag huge profits from these countries.

Profits from Peru and Haiti also are expected to gain 3-6 percent thanks to similar conditions.

If the rates continue to be favorable this year, Viettel can earn huge profits from oversea markets, especially in Mozambique and Cameroon, where the figure is expected to reach $60-70 million, said Le Dang Dung, General Director of Viettel Global (VTG).

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New services and strategic projects

Viettel has developed specific strategies and targets for each of its overseas markets, based on their demographics, economies and political situations, according to Dung. These plans focus on specific goals, but they all aimed at the main target of bagging $250 million in profit from Viettel's nine international markets in 2017.

Viettel has expanded its services to please customers of all ages. In Cambodia, the telecoms group, after long periods of being known as "the network of the elderly", has taken steps to attract younger customers who are willing to spend more.

By changing the color of the logo, hosting more events, and improving customer care strategies, Metfone, Viettel’s Cambodia company, has successfully attracted seven million subscribers during H1.

Viettel’s Laos unit Unitel has quickly reached 4 million subscribers, and is the top provider there, while in East Timor, the group is using new frequencies to generate millions of dollars in profit and promote its new 4G data service.

Peru is another market benefiting from the new 4G data service. Bitel, Viettel's brand in Peru, has become the largest 4G network in the country with 5,000 residential centers through 3,000 stations. In the first six months of the year, the number of Bitel subscribers rose five times to over 2 million.

According to Viettel Global, in order to maintain its leading position in most international markets while creating momentum for the future, the telco is now focusing on new business models such as IT solutions, electronic wallets, population management systems and tax solutions.

During the first half, Viettel signed eight big contracts worth more than $17 million. The firm's actual revenue reached nearly $12 million, four times higher than the total profit recorded for the whole of 2016.

Viettel has set a target of reaching 50 million international subscribers in 2017, up 35 percent from last year. The military-run telecoms also plans to make $1.4 billion in total revenue from international investments this year, a 29 percent increase.